Monday, June 15, 2009

The Two Souls of Socialism by Hal Draper

This extended essay is a MUST read for anyone who claims to be a leftist or a socialist of any stripe. He was however in my estimation a bit too harsh and generalizing in his appraisal of anarchism.  It doesn’t hurt the credibility of his other points.

The Two Souls of Socialism is a socialist pamphlet written by Hal Draper and published in the journal New Politics in 1966. An earlier version of the pamphlet was published by Draper in 1960 in the socialist student magazine Anvil. In his work Draper rejects what he calls "Socialism-from-Above" in favor of "Socialism-from-Below". According to Draper, the divide between these two souls of socialism is the "fundamental" one that underlies other divisions such as "reformist or revolutionary, peaceful or violent, democratic or authoritarian, etc."

Among Socialism-from-Above, Draper includes such varied forms of socialism as utopian socialism, Communist dictatorship and Stalinism, social democracy, and anarchism. Confessing that Socialism-from-Below "has had few consistent exponents and not many inconsistent ones", he nevertheless identifies it with Marx, "whose notion was from the very beginning that the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself."

The pamphlet is organized primarily as a brief history of socialism and important socialist thinkers, beginning with a critical glance at "ancestors" such as Plato, Pythagoras and the Gracchi before turning to Babeuf, Saint-Simon and utopians such as Fourier and Owen. Draper then lauds Marx as the first champion of Socialism-from-Below, "who finally fettered the two ideas of Socialism and Democracy together".

The next sections of the pamphlet consider in turn anarchists (specifically Proudhon and Bakunin), Lassalle, the Fabians, Eduard Bernstein, and American socialists such as Edward Bellamy, all of whom are criticized for being Socialists-from-Above. The final sections separate out "six strains of Socialism-from-Above" (philanthropism, elitism, plannism, communionism, permeationism, and Socialism-from-Outside) and conclude with a call to intellectuals "to choose the road of Socialism-from-Below".

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